Thinking of Pathfinder in different terms. (MMO, Narrative, etc.)


Gamer Life General Discussion

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I suprise myself more and more every day when I sit down an look over new class material in updated books.

I call a Witch a Mez/Controller. A very MMOish term but it's a great short hand for what in combat terms the Witch does. The Witch specializes in sutting down foes and cursing/hexing them to combat ineffectiveness.

(Disclaimer: I know a LOT of MMO terms came about from earlier RPG terms slightly changed for the times. Or older wargamming terms updated to video game references.)

However I don't think of my character as a 'toon'. Hell I don't even use that term when I play MMO's. But the MMO and Storygaming narrative thoughts on encounter design and building have crept into my own GMing style and thought. Hell even a bit of TVTropes snuck in.

I look at foes and think. BBEG, with Skirmishers, one Brick with Mez powers and a few buffers in the wings.

10 years ago I would have looked at my current self and said...what the hell man? That's not even English.

But it's there. When I do GM notes, I've discovered that my Pathfinder details are this weird cryto mash of MMO, Tropes, and such on the page. I swear my notes pages are looking like Eldridge diagrams more these days.

Do any of you see this trend sneaking into your thinking as a player/gamer? What about 4E terms and planning? Or stuff from games like 13th Age or Dungeon World? It's show up in mine...

(Disclaimer 2: In PLAY it's mostly casual or in character, rarely do we drop into very video gaming logic.)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

(Disclaimer 3: Maybe this should have been in Gamer Talk...)


Tropes are probably the single best tool for a gm because they're popular for being well known, awesome, and best of all, subvertible... I use them as much as possible.

MMO terms on the other hand I try to avoid like the plague.... If I ever find something I'm running that smacks of an mmo label I try to change what it's doing so that it can't be pigionholed as an MMO label. It reminds me not to be lazy about how I run an enemy. I know that if someone starts behaving a lot like a 'tank' or a 'mezz' too much, then i've made them predictable... Which leads to boring.

If I think about 'how would a character handle a situation and my brain starts gravitating towards button masher spamming.... The character might very well not even be worth having in the encounter.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, I dunno. It's like looking at a battle map and thinking like a Football play?

The Skirmishers will keep the party busy while the nuker in the back will warm up AOE effects.

Gives BBEG a few rounds to monolog before jumping into the fray.

32, 32, HIKE!


I do like the football metaphor and for the most part mmo 'roles' are valid... I just try to make sure that I throw a wrench in them regularly.... Think about it like a chess game... Every time you respond in the way your opponent expects you to respond, you're playing into his hand.

Have at least one opponent on the field, imagine what everyone else at the table is expecting them to do, and do something else at all costs. Particularly if it creates a tactical snafu. And not always to get an advantage in combat...

Sometimes I'll just have a guy who's in deep crap run from the fight to get reinforcements....

Sometimes i'll just have a guy who's in deep crap run from the fight NOT to get reinforcements but to just keep on runnin. The guy who got away. Players hate the idea that a guy got away. Especially when it seems random, or a surprise... and never seems to come of anything....

I can get them to spend the whole campaign wondering what that guy's up to.

I just think its super important to think 'Does this guy have any other option that would be cooler than the stamp I put on his forehead' and run with it even if it doesnt make tactical or 'job' sense.

"Why the hell would he DO that?"

"He saw an opportunity and went for it spur of the moment... I'm not saying he's got great judgement.... Maybe he's got motivations we don't know about...."


That kind of tactical view of rpg gaming has existed for some time. The problem I have with concepts like 'tank' or 'mezz' is that games like pathfinder rarely if ever fit as neatly into categories like that. The 'roles' arent as well defined, because the system is far more open. The path to victory/defeat is dramatically more complex because there is human intelligence on both sides.

Poking a monster with a challenge and then running in a circle isnt going to accomplish much in a tabletop rpg. So that shorthand, while someone useful, isnt as clear cut as it is in MMO's and computer games in general.

I definately think of things tactically (at least partly) when planning my encounters. But I am thinking in more general and flexible terms, because my enemies, and my player characters have such a wide array of options in front of them.

For instance, something that is very rarely available in MMOs is complex movement options. Flight, earth glide, spider climb, those sort of things. Why? They make the battlefield alot more complicated and much harder to program for. In a table top rpg, if my players are walking on the ceiling, I can use my own human intelligence to alter how the encounter is going to play out.

So I might look at a map I plan to use, or have designed and say, the ogre is going to try to block the player's route to the evil cleric in the back. But I dont think of that as him 'tanking' like he will somehow pull the players attention in a mechanical way. Just in the 'holy crap that guys club is bigger then me' kind of way.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

At the end of the day, the characters are 'people' in my mind. I just think of their roles in the combat at hand. Which can switch thanks to as you put it Kolo, there are no neat categories.


Dotting for later.

The Exchange

I cannot offer very useful advice on this one, as I've been avoiding online games for over a decade. But I don't advise carrying a video-game mindset to the tabletop. You unconsciously limit your own options while constantly getting frustrated that the GM-controlled "mobs" aren't obeying the rules you subconsciously expect. Being conscious of it is a good first step. Try to eschew statements like "I move here and attack. 24 and 18. 11 and 12 damage."

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Actualy using the shorthand speeds up some game prep actually. it allows for fast rules on the fly kinda stuff.

As I'm a hip shooter GM.


Do what works for you.

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